The X-wing starfighters didn’t even get off the flight deck early on Saturday night at Rabobank Arena.
The Condors, donning special Star Wars jerseys for the first time in team history, allowed a goal 33 seconds into the game and two more over the next 10 minutes and were shot down 4-2 by the San Diego Gulls.
Many in the third-largest crowd of the season, 7,277, had yet to settle into their seats before San Diego’s Nick Kerdiles stole a puck in the corner and fed a pass to a wide-open driving Ryan White, who had no problem scoring on Laurent Brossoit from point-blank range.
Giovanni Fiore made it 2-0 at 3:44 off a rebound and Eric Ferh extended San Diego’s lead to 3-zip at 13:06.
Three goals on nine shots and the Condors were dead in the water. They are 0-3-0-1 in their last four and firmly last in the Pacific Division at 17-17-7-1.
The Condors were 3-1-1 before the slide back to .500.
“We came out flat and that’s on us, our game preparation,” Condors coach Gerry Fleming said. “We thought we had the right game plan going in, we had a good meeting this morning. But turnovers, poorly executed plays.
“(That) first play behind the net, that’s just poorly executed. They came at us, no excuse for that.”
The Condors rebounded from the horrible first with a solid effort in the second, and got a goal back when David Gust rifled in his ninth of the year 11 minutes into the period. They also just missed an opportunity to make it a one-goal game on a couple of other good chances.
“We were chasing the game all night,” Fleming said. “When you give up that many goals in the first period and that quickly that’s what happens, you start chasing the game,”
Kerdiles scored 1:29 into the third to make it 4-1. The Condors answered that with a goal by Patrick Russell with seven minutes left.
A number of Condors logged less ice time than usual in a game the Condors desperately needed.
“We had to cut the bench short,” Fleming said. “There were a few guys not going tonight so those other guys had to pick up the slack. We got better as the night went on but it’s tough to chase the game all night, especially when you cut your bench early.”
The AHL does not provide time on ice statistics, but it was not younger players who who cooling their heels on the bench.
“I think our young guys aren’t the problem,” Fleming said. “I think our young guys again stepped up tonight. Maybe a few errors on the back end, but those young guys up front pulled the team along tonight.”
All of the Condors, with the exception of Ty Rattie, will enjoy four days off during the AHL All-Star break, which runs Sunday through Wednesday. Rattie left for Los Angeles after the game for red-eye flights to upstate New York as he will represent the Condors in the AHL All-Star classic in Utica. The skills competition takes place Sunday at 5 p.m. with the 3-on-3 games getting under way at 4 p.m. on Monday. The NHL Network will televise the action both days.
Defenseman Ryan Stanton was injured in Friday night’s game and joined Caleb Jones and Grayson Downing on the list of injured Condors. Stanton and Jones likely will be good to go for the next game, at home against Iowa on Feb. 2. Downing will be a bit longer.